York joy as Tim Easterby’s Winter Power wins Nunthorpe at Ebor Festival

TIM EASTERBY was the toast of racing after Winter Power lit up the Knavesmire to win the Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes at the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival.

Tim Easterby's Winter Power surges clear under Silvestre de Sousa to win the Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes on day three of the Ebor Festival.

Widely regarded as one of the fastest five furlong sprints in the world, the three-year-old filly had the tactical speed to keep up with the trailblazing American speedball Golden Pal.

And when Golden Pal paid the price for a blistering 45mph pace, Winter Power kicked on under former champion jockey Silvestre de Sousa to then delight of a York crowd who have followed the Easterby family over the decades.

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It was also a landmark one-two for Yorkshire in a Group One race that attracted a star-studded international line-up – Kevin Ryan’s Emaraaty Ana was second. Dragon Symbol’s luckless big race run continued when finishing third.

Silvestre de Sousa celebrates the Nunthorpe win of Winter Power.

This was the Easterby family’s most famous York victory since 1980 Ebor win of Sea Pigeon for his irascible father Peter, one of the great men of racing.

Easterby’s third success of the week as he attempts to become the meeting’s leading trainer, it was by far the most significant.

“She’s an incredible filly. She just came right on the day,” said the Great Habton trainer after adding a Group One at his favourite track to a CV that includes a St Leger and Royal Ascot sprint success.

“I wasn’t really worried about any other horse in the race really because you’ve just got to be focused on your own horse and get them to the races on the day healthy, well, fit and the jockey’s got to be chilled out. She’s relaxed now. She relaxes now in her work, and in her races she’s switched off.

The scene at York as Winter Power wins the Nunthorpe for Yorkshire.

“It’s taken a long time to get to a race like this, you have to give them time and you have to be patient. With her, she’s just a superstar, you don’t train her and you don’t train her hard. When she came up there she was just on her toes a little bit and she needs to settle and not do too much.”

Much hinged on the start – and the critical first strides – when Winter Power, running in the colours of King Power Racing of Leicester City fame, found her rhythm while her rivals, all accomplished horses, appeared flat-footed by comparison.

“She’s unbelievably fast, when she hits the gates right she’s really good,” explained de Sousa. “She did that here first time this year and I thought I hadn’t sat on anything as fast as her. She’s good, she’s very good.”

Yet, while Frankie Dettori was out of luck on Golden Pal, he did make York history with the epic win of Stradivarius in the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup.

Silvestre de Sousa after the Nunthorpe win of Winter Power.

The duel with the William Buick-ridden Spanish Mission at the end of this two mile test was a race for the ages and saw the lead change hand on several occasions in the closing stages.

It took a photo-finish to separate the protagonists after Dettori, now 50 years young, used all his experience to conjure a winning run out of Stradivarius who became the contest’s first three-time victor.

And, as crowds return to racecourses, he basked in their adulation as he paraded his warrior in front of the packed stands, implored racegoers to acclaim his champion – and then produced a trademark flying dismount.

It takes two horses to produce great finishes – and this was only a four-runner race after the absence of the Mark Johnston pair of Subjectivist and Sir Ron Priestley through injury was compounded by Trueshan’s late defection due to quick ground.

Stradivarius and Frankie Dettori (right) beat Spanish Mission and William Buick in a thrilling finish to the Lonsdale Cup.

But it also requires the enthusiasm of the crowd to bring out the best in these thoroughbred titans – and also Dettori who thrives on the big occasion.

“I passed him, he passed me back, I passed him – but I think he knows where the line is and he just popped his head in front on the line!” said an elated rider. “He got an amazing reception.”

The horse’s 16th Group win, trainer John Gosden and owner Bjorn Nielsen have no immediate plans to retire the seven-year-old Stradivarius, saying they will take it one race at a time. Gosden said: “The Doncaster Cup is a possibility and there is Champions Day.”

But this was very much Yorkshire’s day.

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